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Watched it two times the past week. In a nutshell - I dare anyone to
find a film that is more sober and so light and that at the same time
fills you with a deep warmth an and all encompassing feeling of great
Its story is of such unbelievable simplicity that at the first sight of such a script you'd wonder how on earth it would be possible to make it into a film - or tell anything with it that goes beyond the script. Add to this the fact that any dialogue almost entirely fails to manifest itself...
But then you forget about Kim Ki-duk! If anyone was born with the eye of the cinematographic magician, it must be him. Despite the fact that I did not like The Isle at all, the photography was utterly unbelievable. Same for Spring, Summer... But then I still thought "well, anyone with reasonable skill can get a good image out of such landscapes/spaces". But none of that here - mainly indoors or in the city - just a guy spending his nights at other unknown people's places while they're away, and in turn repairs stuff and cleans/does the laundry. And STILL the images are nothing less than breathtaking. The light is superb, the framing, everything... Also the storytelling... pacing is perfect - he tells the story with images more than with events. The film actually becomes light as feather, and then lighter. Sublimation. And besides that, he manages to squeeze in some real drama and the occasional laugh. Go figure.
I'm gonna quit here, there's really nothing much more I can add. Do yourself a favour and see this inconspicuous little film that is so profoundly simple and beautiful that you'll be wanting to send me a thank you note afterwards for telling you this.
"Bin Jip" was presented as a surprise this year at the Festival of Venice. Kim Ki-duk had already been swimming in the waters of the Lido three years ago, with his charming-thrilling-shocking "The Isle". This year's Festival was a rather noisy one. Kim Ki-duk brought silence. This year's Festival was a rather hasty one. Kim Ki-duk brought peace. This year's Festival was a rather boring one. Kim Ki-duk brought a ray of invention with this wonderfully written, wonderfully acted and wonderfully shot movie. What lies beneath the silence of "Bin Jip" is probably a story of ghosts: a boy pretending to be a ghost, or average humans not realizing they have always been. Nothing is fully explained, as nothing in life really is. Nobody else will ever make a movie lighter and funnier and warmer than "Bin Jip" - to watch is to understand.
To me it's been obvious for quite some time now that South Korea is by
far the most interesting country in Asia when it comes to film. And
Asia on the other hand feels like the most interesting continent, so
where does that leave us?
"Bin-Jip" (or "3-iron") is a wonderful movie. I went to see it without really knowing what to expect. I must admit that even though South Korean films appeal to me my expectations were quite low, not least because the movie was described in a way that was vague to say the least. But after watching it... it all made sense. Because how do you describe a movie like this one? It moves somewhere in the shadow-land between reality and fantasy. One of those movies that has very little plot to it but still comes across as beautifully written. And above all things it made me feel good!
The closest reference i can find to how this movie made me feel is "Lost in Translation". Don't get me wrong, the movies are not very alike. But the feeling they gave me is the same. When i watched these movies for the first time i felt like i didn't really know what i was i just saw. I only knew that i liked it and it made me feel good. A warm sensation in my gut telling me that maybe there is hope after all. Hope for what? I don't know, life maybe?
In the end the 3-iron, the golf-balls and the surface are not important. What's important is life, love and warmth. This is a beautiful movie, both on the surface and beneath it. It is also a truly unique movie experience and i don't get to say that very often. Highly recommended and definitely one of the best i've seen so far this year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
3-Iron Analysis (spoiler) This is not another review. There are
sufficient reviews already. This movie was a deep, sensitive,
imaginative masterpiece, and I glad that I saw it. Fortunately, the
trailers did not warp it into a thriller or emphasize violence, or I
would have skipped the movie and missed a special experience.
Tae-suk lives life vicariously, scooping up and assimilating the experiences and relationships of families and individuals with varied lifestyles, talents, and living situations. It is a precarious game, but it is Tae-suk's reality, and he accepts it without fear and without being dissuaded by close calls and dangerous encounters.
Tae-suk is basically a good person, intent on doing what he can to repay for the bit of life, memories and lodging that he borrows from others. However, he cannot escape the karma of his actions, and he accepts those results completely, often cheerfully.
Tae-suk is a deeply internal person, and always true to himself. Thus he would not think of fabricating a story to turn around the situation with the man who died of lung cancer to his advantage. He simply flows with the unfolding of the Tao. (That is part of my own interpretation of the movie).
Tae-suk is a free, uncontainable spirit. Incarceration is but an opportunity for him to develop and refine that aspect of consciousness, perception and ability that is uniquely him. He is totally true to his personal reality, which is a sort of game that he plays in his manner of interacting with the realities of others. That development takes him in the direction of Shao-lin type skills, which are the perfect extension of his own mode of being and perceiving.
It is not untypical for martial artists to choose non-sharp, everyday objects as their respective weapons of choice. In ancient days, that might be a walking staff. In contemporary society, perhaps a 3-iron. (I just hope that no one gets the idea from this movie to try it). I am not a golfer, but I gather that the 3-iron is a seldom-used club for driving the ball hard, level, and with precision, for short-range distances. Even when used with a tethered ball, its power cannot always be controlled. There is always the possibility that it will get out of control, as when Tae-suk hits a car and kills a woman. This is a metaphor for Tae-suk's well-meaning style of life. Of course, he would not have driven the ball toward the car, had his reality not been complicated by extending to a real relationship, which kept standing in the way of ball's intended direction.
One, also, cannot use a weapon, or interact with another life-stream, without occurring karma. Karma is not a bad thing; it is a teaching agent. Out of emotional involvement, Tae-suk maims Sun-hwa's husband, and thus Tae-suk must also experience the opposite end of the action by himself being the object of a golf-ball attack. Tae-suk accepts that karma, and still retains the 3-iron as his martial arts weapon, staying true to his life-style and personal reality.
Tae-suk's lack of tolerance for abusive people is an admirable conviction. The way it affects him, though, is one of his few character flaws. In two instances, that of Sun-hwa's abusive husband, and his own abusive prison guard, Tae-suk is violently vengeful.
For Sun-hwa, Tae-suk's reality is a positive alternative to her empty, abusive marriage relationship. Tae-suk is kind, genuine, integris, protective, and loving. His adventures are far richer than the confines of a suburban definition of paradise.
In the end, Tae-suk develops a deep, more permanent, love relationship with Sun-hwa, but in keeping with whom he is, a perpetually precarious and dangerous one. The game and the allure have risen to a higher level.
- David D.
Having witnessed Kim ki Duk's masterpiece in the past "Spring, Summer,
Fall, Winter and Spring", I was eagerly interested in this well
received next venture.
3 Iron, is very similar in style to Spring Summer, there is very little dialogue, and the story tells itself. However, I had to admit that after about 65% of viewing this film, admiring the characters, I was still kind of wondering if this film was going to go somewhere. It had to make some direction. Only the last 3rd brought me back and really showed me how ingenious this film is.
The lead actor Hee Jae really performs one of the most memorable performances, with hardly saying a word, his arching brows or glare in his face conveys every emotion masterfully compared to other actors who would have to say a million lines. I won't go over plot details that have already been discussed, what is interesting is that all the houses the two break into are all of couples in some stage in a relationship, one breaking down, one that is well established and peaceful, one that is young and virile, but perhaps inexperienced.
It all seems to be a metaphor for how two beings meet to co-exist and compliment each other, particularly the final scene that ends with the two anti-heroes meeting up and finding their lives in perhaps perfect balance.
Be patient with this film, STICK with it, it's well worth it. Extremely dreamy and poetic and masterful.
Rating 8 out of 10
I must say that in general I am quite skeptical about Asian movies: I usually find them horrendously boring in the best case, and obnoxiously weird in the worst. In particular the last one, 2046, kept me agonizing in the theater while unconnected images -even though wheel shot and poetical- ran through the screen, so I was pretty scared when I entered the theater this time. Especially after a friend of mine told me it was a dramatic/romantic movie with almost no dialogs. Instead, i was surprised by how charming, touching and pleasant is this movie. The plot is about a guy who enters in empty houses and puts them in order, repairs things, does the washing (manually) and stuff like this. The photography is absolutely awesome and added to the skill of the actors supplies to the almost complete absence of dialogs. We assist to this platonic form of platonic love between the protagonists, while they live their absurd lives as they were the most normal people in the world. The end is a bit mystical and gives a lot of meaning to a movie that could seem nonsense. 9/10
Yet another movie with few words but much meaning. The few Korean
movies I have seen have been very fresh and interesting and this one is
There were many themes and symbols all blended together in a lovely way. And the slow, silent courtship of Sun-hwa and Tae-suk was quiet and touching. The way they interacted ... the way she expressed herself with simple gestures like standing in front of the ball ... It makes other romances seem like a loud racket.
I especially liked the scene with the scale at the end where together they both weighed nothing. A truly wonderful metaphor for love.
This movie did have a lot of product placements and was so corporate and anti-corporate at the same time. It really confused me. Korea must be an interesting place to make movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
3-Iron is the (almost) wordless story of a young burglary artist, who,
to find shelter for the night, will post Chinese food fliers on doors
and return to occupy vacant homes for the night. While he is in the
home he will do laundry or small fix-it jobs leaving the home better
than he found it.
His routine and life change when one of the homes he enters is NOT vacant and he finds a young wife that has been beaten by her husband. When the husband returns and begins his assault again, the young man uses an unusual approach to defending the woman who decides to leave with him and join him on his nightly rounds.
This movie is a treat in this day and age of "talkie" movies with too much exposition and dialog. So simple and yet profound. So much is told with a glance and a picture that I'm sure it will be studied in film schools for years to come.
The Korean film "3-Iron" has an extraordinary story - not the content
'Per Se' but its treatment, approach and delivery by
producer-writer-director-editor Kim Ki-Duk. There are many quiet,
speechless moments and scenes, yet they spoke volumes - almost the feel
of Zen, meaningfully so. It's beyond what the society or people
'traditionally' may see or assume. Yes, there may be 'turn off's' and
disapproving situations - can we, do we, have the heart to forgive? Are
we so 'sacred' and impeccable without ever making mistakes in our
lives? Yes, we may not be so bold and brash as to 'crash' into another
man's house - yet the thought of the young man's 'reality' of being so
simple 'matter of fact' walking into someone else's home is not so
improbable? He actually appears to be a thoughtful person. He handles
with care the content of the house. He picks up the clothes lying
around the place, gathers them, hand-washes them, hangs them up, cleans
up the place, literally enjoys the home environment (the bath, the
kitchen, the food, the bed, etc.) The observant dilemma being he
obviously appreciates the house/home more than the owners/occupants.
There is 'suspense' - we'd worry what will happen to him, to him and her, and as the worse fear may arise (just like any cops and robbers film), can true justice prevail after all? Just when you think you figured out what's going on, w-d Kim gives us something more to think about. Elements that we don't expect - we're in awe at the concept and perspective presented to us, the viewer. It's quite extraordinary, really. And be afraid not, it will be rewarding, satisfying somehow, and you just might savor that last moment of magic between the two lead characters, her and him. The strength of the two leads portraying to perfection at sublimated tempo by Lee Seung-Yeon (as Sun-Hwa the woman) and Jae Hee (as Tae-Suk the man) is truly a godsend (both in their debut performances).
Once again, bravo to Sony Pictures Classics for the choice distribution of this film. Check out the Official Site for Director's Statement and a detail synopsis (best to do this after seeing the film.) "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring" (2003) is another film by w-d Kim, exquisite in cinematic visual and integral in storyline experience. (For non-golfers, the title "3-Iron" refers to golf club.)
Kim ki-Duk is one of the most provocative directors of the world. I
remember "The Isle", his sexual and beautiful movie, a tale that a lot
of people didn't understand, and since then, I'm a big fan of this
This new movie, "3-Iron", shows the best of ki-Duk's soul and senses. The loneliness where the characters live is a sea of dreams, like empty houses of golf balls without have been used. This movie should be considered like one of the year's best. I hope that the people in USA will see it because it's totally beautiful. Like in all the ki-Duk movies, the violence is an essential element, that can't appear hidden, because in this time, the violence is the gun of the characters.
I'm looking forward to his next movie, "The Bow", but before, I've got to see "Samaritan girl", that has been released in my country this weekend.
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